Wall Street Journal Admonishes AMLO’s Public Projects Decree

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In an op-ed published on Sunday, Nov. 28, respected daily newspaper The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) publicly lambasted Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) decree to automatically authorize all public projects determined to be a matter of national security by the government and subsequently placing the initiatives under the jurisdiction of the Mexican military, with the WSJ calling the executive’s move “an act of desperation rather than one of strength.”

The publication, one of the largest in the United States and with widespread international esteem, said the move could signal “the beginning of the end of Mexican democracy,” pointing out how the decree circumvents and violates integral features of the Mexican Constitution. 

The decree would allow the Mexican government to keep public project contracts from open bidding, allowing the agreements to be kept secret under the guise of national security and removing transparency and accountability from the construction of national projects like the Tren Maya and Felipe Ángeles International Airport, which were already handed over to the military prior to the decree’s publication.

In response, the WSJ claimed that López Obrador was looking to return to the Mexico of the 1970s, “when the executive ruled a soft dictatorship,” and, rather than militarize the country, would “seek to accelerate the bureaucracy and eliminate the judicial mandates that stand in the way of AMLO’s vision for Mexico.”

“The real problem for López Obrador is that, although he remains popular, the country is also full of interests that do not always share his views, from the Mayan communities who oppose his train through their lands to investors in energy with signed contracts,” wrote Mary Anastasia O’Grady for the WSJ. “In a liberal democracy, even minority interests retain their property and contract rights and access to the courts.”

The WSJ went on to compare AMLO’s decision as similar to the former U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel tariffs, mentioning that both actions were likely performed in an effort to bolster popularity among constituents ahead of upcoming elections, speculating that López Obrador issued his decree to increase his supporter base ahead of 2024’s presidential elections. 

Though AMLO would theoretically be restricted from running once again by Mexico’s six-year presidential term limits (a boundary he attempted to push with the controversial Zaldivar Law), his attempt at crowd pleasing could help another member of his leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) ascend to the executive position.

At its conclusion, the WSJ piece concluded that the final three years of AMLO’s term will likely be fraught with confrontation, as “physical confrontations” should be expected from López Obrador’s loyal supporters as the judiciary and Congress implement checks and balances to limit AMLO’s executive powers.

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